Home > Oz Politics > The case for the Greens

The case for the Greens

July 18th, 2010

As I said last time, I’ll be advocating a vote for the Greens. Unlike some commenters here, I plan to give my second preference to Labor[1]. To justify my second preference first, I regard the Liberals under Abbott as utterly unfit for government. Abbott has behaved as an unprincipled opportunist throughout his period as opposition leader, denouncing “great big new taxes”, then proposing taxes of his own with no regard for consistency or good public policy. In office, I expect he would discover that he had a mandate for the hardline rightwing policies he has always favored.

Coming to the choice between Labor and the Greens, this isn’t the first time I have given a first preference to the Greens, but it’s the first in some years. The main substantive issues that concern me are economic management and climate change, but these issues (and particularly climate change) can’t be separate from questions about process and principle. The government has done a good job on economic management, while the opposition has been consistent only in error. On the other hand, the government has made a terrible mess of climate change policy, almost entirely because of its reluctance to deal with the Greens and to confront the opposition and the lobby groups that back them. In the long run, the only way they will be able to govern effectively is through co-operation with the Greens, and the sooner they are forced to realise this the better.

It’s obvious at this point that the CPRS proposed last year is dead, and that a new ETS will have to be developed, hopefully when we have seen some more progress in other countries. For that reason, I think a carbon tax, with few exemptions and a tight cap on compensation to emitters is the best way to go. The Greens idea of a two-year interim carbon tax would be a good starting point for discussion and there is still time for Labor to announce in-principle support for a deal of this kind.

On other issues such as asylum seekers, the government’s position is carefully ambiguous, while the opposition is as close to overt racism[2] as it has ever been. A big vote for the Greens would force the government back towards a decent position.

Then there is the machine politics that led, first to Rudd being forced to dump the CPRS, and then being sacked when this decision had such disastrous consequences. Without excusing Rudd for some earlier failures on the issue, this alone would be enough to deprive Labor of my first preference in the presence of any decent alternative.

It seems reasonable to hope that the Greens will get enough votes to hold the balance of power in the Senate from July 2011. It seems unlikely, except by a fluke that they could do the same in the House of Representatives. But the loss of even two or three inner-city seats would put Labor on notice that its core support can’t be taken for granted.

I’m even marginally hopeful as regards the seat of Ryan, where I live. The incumbent Liberal, Michael Johnson, has been disendorsed over corruption allegations, but claims to be the victim of factional smears and is running hard against the official LNP candidate. The Greens have done well in the past, and might benefit from a flow of preferences.

fn1. This assumes that there is no preference deal made that would lead me to think otherwise. For example, if Labor were to preference Steve Fielding or the like again, I would consider exhausting my Senate ballot in a way that gave a preference to neither major party (to see how, read here.

fn2. The one genuine example of “political correctness” in Australian politics is the one that prevents us from using the word “racist” to describe racism, but there’s no doubt that’s what it is.

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  1. ShowsOn
    July 18th, 2010 at 15:04 | #1

    I don’t know why you’d advocate a vote for the Greens because of climate change when the Greens are completely opposed to nuclear power, which is part of the solution to climate change.

  2. Rationalist
    July 18th, 2010 at 15:10 | #2

    I am no fan of the Greens but out of the 5 Greens Senators I can see some strong talent even if I personally do not see eye to eye with their views. Scott Ludlam from WA is very intelligent, at least from what I have heard. Another WA Senator, Rachael Siewert I do not know much about. I hold Bob Brown in high regard due to his principled stances over so many years and his experience. Senator Hansen-Young from SA seems to be doing a great job, particularly on youth issues. Christine Milne seems to be a leader in waiting from the birthplace of the Greens down in Tasmania.

    Now, that ends the praise from me. I am in NSW and Lee Rhiannon is on the top of the ticket. I hope for the future of the country and for the future of the Greens that Rhiannon fails to win in NSW so that Milne or someone else becomes the next Greens leader when Bob Brown likely resigns before his term expires in 6 years time.

    But hey, if Rhiannon were to win I think it would yield replication of Democrat-like leadership issues and factionalism which could kill the party.

  3. JennieL
    July 18th, 2010 at 15:53 | #3

    I pretty much agree with this: Greens first, Labor-before-Liberal, and for the reasons given.

    The most important thing for me in this election is that Abbott and his party are kept out of government. They’ve already done a huge amount of harm merely by being in opposition. Bad oppositions make for bad governments, and their obdurate denialism is now giving us the insane spectacle of an election in which the government which can use its belief that climate change is real as a major plank of its campaign platform.

  4. July 18th, 2010 at 15:54 | #4

    Having just read (skimmed actually) the entire “Policies” section of the Greens website, I say “Wow”, as there is actually One policy that is ahead of the other parties. Unfortunately this good work is undone by there being at least Three policies where the author of that policy had no idea (whatsoever)of what they were talking about, and a string of policies that are “God Help Australia” should we have the misfortune for them ever to be implemented.

    That aside, the case above for voting Green is coherent (though in my belief very misguided) the case for voting Labor is at best kind to the ALP, and the case for not voting Liberal is put quite poorly. It is in fact more a listing of the author’s political prejudices, and is not a rational nor objective view of the political parties and policies mentioned.

  5. Grim
    July 18th, 2010 at 16:20 | #5

    JQ, I don’t know why you want to promote the fallacy of Labor’s ‘reluctance’ to deal with the Greens. Labor could have dealt with the Greens up to and including accepting all of the Green’s requirements for the ETS and it still would not have got through parliament. You remember, surely: the ‘sceptical’ Nick Xenophon and the outright ‘denier’, Steve Fielding – it was they, NOT the Greens, who held the Senate balance of power on this issue.

    Labor had only one option, the one which they took – to deal with Malcolm Turnbull and the Coallition. And they came within one vote (the one that dumped Malcolm) of getting an ETS through and into law.

    The great failing of Rudd was to listen too much to the Gillards, Swanns and Arbibs of this world, and not to go for a double dissolution, which he very likely – like Gough W before him – would have won.

  6. Alan
    July 18th, 2010 at 16:45 | #6


    What you say is true, except that trying to capture opposition support required an already feeble bill to be gutted and then ended up destroying Turnbull and any hope of that support. The strategy was pretty poor in both concept and execution. Almost as brain-dead as replacing Rudd with Gillard and then adopting the policies which destroyed Rudd’s popularity.

    I will give the Greens my first preference. Whether my second preference goes Labor or exhausts depends entirely on good behaviour and Labor has shown precious little sign of that lately.

  7. gregh
    July 18th, 2010 at 19:19 | #7

    I posted this at LP but their site is down. It’s a poster based on the old Andy Warhol Nixon/McGovern poster

  8. July 18th, 2010 at 19:36 | #8

    Nice point about “political correctness” in footnote 2.

  9. gregh
    July 18th, 2010 at 19:54 | #9

    the critical advantage the Greens have is that their ideas are post-Science, or at least within-Science. This places them (in terms of world view) maybe two or three hundred years in front of the liblabs

  10. Grim
    July 18th, 2010 at 19:56 | #10

    JQ, re fn1

    I take it you are assuming that the ALP and Coallition will field no more than 6 candidates each, and that there will be at least 120 candidates in total.

  11. Jim Rose
    July 18th, 2010 at 21:37 | #11

    You make a good point that the Greens never had the balance of power in the senate. This was very under-reported.

    Anthony Green’s blog has an excellent analysis of how a double dissolution would not have given Labor a majority in a joint sitting.

    The first reason is winning half the 6 seats at a half–election requires 42.5% of the vote. Winning half of 12 seats requires 46% of the vote.

    Green estimated that Labor would lose a senate seat overall. A 12 seat election also increases the chances of fringe parties. To muddy the waters further, Labor could not afford to lose any seats in the house to keep the joint sitting majority.

    That is why Rudd did not go to a double dissolution. It created more problems in the Senate and solved none elsewhere.

    The more interesting long-term political dynamic is the balance of power in the senate may be held by a party to the left of Labour rather than in the middle. This changes the identity of the Senate median voter – the swinging voter. Labor must decide whether to go left or right at future elections and in-between.

    Fear of putting off the centre too often will induce Labour to go regularly cap in hand to the Liberals in the Senate because the Greens and 80% of their voters have nowhere else to go.

    You only have the balance of power if people ask for your vote. Fred Nile, MLC knew how to deal with being ignored like this. Vote for me on what I want or I will vote against you on everything for the rest of time. One day, my revenge vote will hurt too much.

  12. iain
    July 18th, 2010 at 21:40 | #12

    I think this is a good argument for why representative democracy has run its course. It has failed to produce an effective response to the most important issues of our time, and it continually fails to offer an option to even remotely address these issues in an adequate manner, moving forward.

    It is a sad state of affairs when the more interesting deliberative democratic processes (such as the Zeguo experiment) are being produced by essentially non-democratic countries.

    The ability of representative democracies to innovate a better form of governance is almost nil.

  13. Gohn25
    July 18th, 2010 at 22:00 | #13

    Grim at 10

    Wouldn’t it be possible to go 1, 2, 2, 4 , 5, 6 … 120 and exhaust after 1 and still be valid ?

  14. July 18th, 2010 at 22:03 | #14

    John, not unsurprisingly I take a slightly different tack. I think no matter who wins, and even if the Greens hold the balance of power in the Reps, we will need to fight industrially and through mass movements for progressive reforms. I call Gillard and Abbott the Bobbsey twins of conservatism. http://enpassant.com.au/?p=7735

  15. Chris Maltby
    July 18th, 2010 at 22:25 | #15

    As a Greens member it’s good to see you advocating a Greens vote again John. But I think there’s even an advantage for conservatives who want better outcomes in our parliament if the Greens hold the balance of power.

    Abbott and his predecessors have ruthlessly used their effective Senate control for short-term political ends. They will be forced (as would the Greens and Labor too) to be more moderate and constructive if they are to retain any political relevance.

    I would expect that Greens Senators will find themselves on the opposite side of the chamber from both “major” parties more often than not, but they have showed they are able to negotiate for better outcomes on legislation, and will give both sides a hearing on issues.

    It’s a while since the Senate worked like that, don’t you think?

  16. Grim
    July 18th, 2010 at 22:36 | #16

    Jim @ #11

    Your Senate position may be correct (that the ALP would lose a seat). But perhaps not, and Fielding would certainly have gone too. Yes, I’m aware of the numbers: minimum vote count for a senate seat = Total No. of votes / (number of seats + 1) +1 and that is a smaller percentage of the total vote for a full-senate election (approx 7.7% per seat) than a half-senate election (approx 14.3% per seat).

    However, at the time, Rudd was still at the peak of his almost-equal-to-Hawke popularity and it’s really not altogether inconceivable that the ALP would have picked up a seat or three in the Reps, thus easily giving it the combined sitting numbers.

    Much indeed as Gough Whitlam achieved the combined sitting numbers in May 1974, after just 18 months in government, and with a polling approval rating somewhat less than Rudd’s was back in the times of Turnbull.

  17. Jim Rose
    July 18th, 2010 at 22:46 | #17


    Your counter-points are well made.

    Rudd could have gambled on a double dissolution but it was so early in his term that he gave up too much time in office. He never considered the next election to be in doubt so he invested in developing other policies and in winning turnbull to his side on carbon trading.

    Rudd became so unpopular so quickly that the double dissolution option just disappeared.

    The sudden end of the DLP, and an evenly divided Senate gave Whitlam his double dissolution joint sitting majority.

  18. Grim
    July 18th, 2010 at 22:47 | #18

    Gohn25 @ #13

    Not the way I read the AEC’s interpretation of the electoral act, viz (via JQ’s link):

    “• that where there are twenty candidates, a ballot paper would be informal if it did not have on it either the numbers 1 to 18 (90% of 20) without repetitions or omissions, or numbers which, if up to three of them were changed, would be the numbers 1 to 18 without repetitions or omissions.”

    In short, since both the ALP and the Coallition would indeed field 6 candidates, then, even after your crafty numbering, the electoral officer would simply change your repeated numbers (up to 3 anyway) andould still end up passing a preference on to one or the other of the Great Weevil parties.

    It’s that bit about “no repetitions or omissions” that gets ya every time.

  19. Grim
    July 18th, 2010 at 22:58 | #19

    Jim @ #17,

    Granted re Whitlam’s more or less evenly divided senate, but that was after the election, not before (see the Vince Gair Affair to confirm that the DLP were still ative and holding Senate seats until then). My main point being that it was after only 18 months in office that Gough moved the D-D.

    Rudd didn’t lose his popularity – at least not precipitately – until after he failed to reintroduce the ETS legislation (apparently at the urging of the likes of Gillard, Swann, Abib et al) thus depriving himself of a legitimate D-D trigger. However, yes, after that the D-D option was dead in the water.

  20. July 18th, 2010 at 23:02 | #20

    @Peter Wood Totally concur with this comment – it has been a rarely acknowledged truth for many years.

    (I concur with the main arguments John Q put in his post too, but that’s hardly a surprise)

  21. Jim Rose
    July 18th, 2010 at 23:05 | #21

    Hayek had a similar view to you in the road to serfdom.

    Democracies are capable of only producing a certain level of agreement – usually limited to general rules within which disagreement will be tolerated, and once the list gets beyond this or too long, democratic control fades. The limit arises from constraints on the ability of voters to gather and process information and to then express their view on multiple subjects, with opinions having different intensities between people, into a single vote.

    Hayek’s solution was a strong upper house elected by a different method of election to the lower house, a division of power, and vibrant federalism.

    The more times that you get to vote, and get to vote on different packages of issues, the more chances you get to influence what is happening to you.

    Sadly, Australian federalism is greatly diminished after the Howard years courtesy of the dependency of the states on the GST for revenue, rather than their own tax bases, and the constitutional expansion of federal power when the High Court upheld work choices.

  22. Alan
    July 18th, 2010 at 23:31 | #22

    @Jim Rose

    There was no need for a double dissolution election to be immediate. The cutoff date for a double dissolution is 6 months before the end of the term which is 3 years after the first meeting of the house, not election day. You cannot call a thing the greatest moral choice of our time and then postpone it for 3 years because it’s all too hard.

  23. Grim
    July 19th, 2010 at 00:02 | #23

    Jim @ #21 and iain @ #12

    Doesn’t anybody remember ‘The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer’ ?

  24. gregh
    July 19th, 2010 at 04:53 | #24

    yep – I have a copy, it is now available

  25. July 19th, 2010 at 05:37 | #25


    If there were 12 Lib-Lab-Nats out of 102, the 90% could work. The problem would be what to do with AAFI, CDP, shooters etc.

  26. July 19th, 2010 at 05:41 | #26



    No mention of that other technology is on topic here. There has been a blog prohibition on it for the next five years. Everyone here (and you from Crikey) knows my position on the issue, but I respect the right of the blog host to do this.

  27. July 19th, 2010 at 05:56 | #27


    That said, The Greens are supportable on other grounds. Failure to support that particular technology is not a matter of principle, nor could they obstruct it if the ALP changed its mind.

  28. jquiggin
    July 19th, 2010 at 06:22 | #28

    To be clear on nuclear power, we covered the issue exhaustively here. As stated in that post, anyone with anything new to say on the topic is welcome to email me, and I will post it. So far, no one has taken up the invitation. But I am absolutely not interested in taling points like that of @Showson

  29. July 19th, 2010 at 07:11 | #29

    The Greens idea of a two-year interim carbon tax would be a good starting point for discussion and there is still time for Labor to announce in-principle support for a deal of this kind.

    I agree. If such could be negotiated we might see a switch to CCGT from the dirtiest coal and a switch of plans to build new coal capacity in the mainland eastern seaboard states (it’s estimated that quite significant new capacity will come online between now and 2020) to new gas capacity. Given the political and temporal realities, this would be a significant step forward in emissions abatement in the near term.

  30. Socrates
    July 19th, 2010 at 09:34 | #30

    I agree with John Q and his reasons – Green 1, Labor 2. Labor have done well on the economy (the debt paranioa is absurd) but putting off climate change action till 2013 is an unacceptable delay. Without the Greens at least holding the balance of power in the Senate Labor will continue to drag its feet on CC action. If the Greens increase their vote it will send Labor a message.

    I would go further on the opposition. They have been incredibly negative in the Senate despite very little mandate to do so. Their opposition to the paid parental leave scheme for example, although hardly a headline issue, was completely disingenuous. Not following through on the ETS deal negotiated by McFarlane was the height of bad faith politics.

  31. July 19th, 2010 at 09:59 | #31

    I have issues with the Greens. What puts me off them a bit is their ‘holier than thou’ attitude, especially towards Labor.

    The fact is that unfortunately major parties have to pander to opinions that may not match other parts of their constituency. So when I saw the ALP ads with ‘stronger border protection’ I knew what that implied and I grimaced, but the ALP as the Liberal/Nationals coalition want the majority of voters to vote for them. So if it is ‘stronger border protection’ on one side or ditching Workchoices on the other so be it.

    The Greens know that they will not form a government, so as Gough said ‘only the impotent can afford to be pure’. However I am seriously thinking about giving my first preference to the Greens….why?

    Because in my opinion the influence of Howard is still too strong and Labor is still pandering to his ideas. The total political spectrum in Australia has shifted too much on the right and the Greens offer an opportunity to drag it back. The left in the ALP has failed to do this.

    The commentariat talks about ‘Western Sydney’ and the fact that the major parties have to pander to the anti-refugee sentiment in that part of the world. Would be nice to have major parties that have to pander to an electorate that has to be wooed for its progressive stance for a change.

  32. JPS
    July 19th, 2010 at 10:02 | #32

    Labor’s ‘economic management’ = billions wasted on school halls and pink batts with a $70 billion reversal in the budget bottom line. No wonder Quiggan is a Greens voter – i.e. the party of the terminally economically illiterate. Cf the ETS.

    Any moron can yell ‘racism’ – the fact this moron will draw a professors superannuation for the rest of his life makes this doubly frustrating.

  33. Jim Rose
    July 19th, 2010 at 10:31 | #33

    Pandering to opinions of the people is actually one of the great strengths of democracy.

    The ability of minorities to protect themselves in democracies is built on them trading a block of support on other issues less important to them in return for securing parts of their own agenda. The Greens sometimes use this very approach.

    Democracy equality means that everyone can lobby political parties to market policies that different voters and the groups to which they belong want. This everyone includes groups you may detest.

    Any differences in opinion in a democracy are resolved by trying to persuade each other and elections.

    The Greens can drag the political spectrum back from the Right by changing the identity of the swinging voter – the median voter. Labor must choose between either going right or going left to build a winning coalition in the House and Senate. The Liberals will have an eye on the 20% of green voters who second preference the Liberals

    Methods for change the identity of the swinging voter usually include moderating policies to appeal to the centre and showing a willingness to compromise. These are traits the Greens may lack at the moment.

  34. derrida derider
    July 19th, 2010 at 11:33 | #34

    fn2. The one genuine example of “political correctness” in Australian politics is the one that prevents us from using the word “racist” to describe racism, but there’s no doubt that’s what it is.

    Something I’ve long believed.

  35. Jim Birch
    July 19th, 2010 at 11:48 | #35

    “Pandering to opinions of the people is actually one of the great strengths of democracy.”

    It’s also it’s a massive weak point. It all depends on the quality of the opinions that it is pandering to. There’s nothing in human biology that actually requires reality-tested opinions (though they obviously have their uses) and there are powerful biological forces that operate orthogonally to produce opinions, eg, sex and social alignment. Rats beat humans at some very simple reality testing tasks with a brain the size of a pea. Where is that glucose consumption going?

    If reality tested opinions were enough, evolution would have made us autistic. It hasn’t.

  36. Jim Rose
    July 19th, 2010 at 12:00 | #36

    A criterion for selecting a new leader of the Greens could be whether they had a real job before politics.

    Labour is overrun with people who never held a real job outside of politics, and spent their 20s and 30s living internal party factional politics. Such a pedigree means they do not meet ordinary people.

    Modern careerist politicians spend all their time in the company of fellow political junkies within their own party faction who largely agree with them.

    In an age of information overload, it is easy to fall back on our own prejudices and insulate ourselves with comforting opinions that reaffirm our core beliefs.

    The challenge is respect for democracy can stem from the belief that so long as people do not cocoon themselves, a large number of voters is unlikely to be wrong. By cocoons, I mean being trapped in information cocoons, shielded from information at odds with our preconceptions.

    We can use sophisticated tools such as the Internet to expose ourselves to only what views we feel more comfortable with. We can insulate ourselves from challenge.

    More and more people are gravitating toward those newspapers, blogs, podcasts and other media that reinforce their own views. Citizens can filter out opposing or alternative viewpoints but voters in democracies must instead hear multiple voices.

    The Greens is at risk of filling up with senators who spent their youth in campaigns various and working and socialising with people of similar persuasions to them. The Australian Democrats imploded because, in part, they with inbreed with young senate candidates coming from the staff of senators’ offices and their youth was spent lobbing inside their organisation for endorsement. They lost touch.

    The Greens risk ending-up like Rudd. He never met a member of the public except at a photo opportunity. Little wonder he and the rest of Labour hang off every word of focus groups. Labour careerists had no personal connection to voters and were losing the working class vote to the liberals.

    The Green vote is at the risk of long-term decline because the major parties will co-opt and water down their main policies. To stay relevant, the Greens must elect leaders who understand the ordinary people who might vote green rather than identifying with a hard core who would never vote for someone else.

  37. Hermit
    July 19th, 2010 at 13:35 | #37

    The merits of the ALP-Greens coalition in Tasmania is hard to assess. Old growth logging continues which one would think is non-negotiable with the Greens. On the other hand some of their other ideas seem to gotten up by a circuitous process; example the no-go on Gunn’s pulp mill. Applying this to the Federal scene it seems possible the Greens could cave in on carbon pricing and onshore processing. Some sort of compromise that runs the full term of the next parliament.

    I also believe the Greens are seriously misguided on that other matter Fran alluded to. Thus I’m inclined to vote for independent candidates.

  38. paul walter
    July 19th, 2010 at 14:03 | #38

    Hermit brings us back to reality.
    For it was in Tasmania that Labor and Liberal, on behalf of Gunns and presumably their own pockets, formed an unholy alliance that sealed the fate of the Tasmanian environment for the short term gain of a clique.
    The reactionary side of Labor, in keeping with its irrational hate of the left, will fight desperately to avoid coalition with the Greens, because they would have to accomodate public and rational scientific interests and viewpoints, as well as the corporate gangsters and neoliberal ideological zealots to which it has remained infatuated with and becomebeholden to.
    With the death of the coalition, the electorate has only Labor on life support left, nursed by the Greens- getting Labor to budge in its defence of corporate interests on behalf of common sense will be like drawing eye-teeth, but we must be pulled into the twenty first century, even if a decade of it is already wasted.

  39. Jim Blundell
    July 19th, 2010 at 14:16 | #39

    I can’t work out how your link – exhausting my Senate ballot in a way that gave a preference to neither major party (to see how, read here) – tells me what is claimed. Other than explaining normal formal voting that generally ends up giving my vote to a major party, it seems only to explain what’s informal. I’d appreciate better understanding your point.
    Perhaps a campaign of civil disobedience if actioned on a large enough scale would “send a message” that we voters have had a gutfull of the major parties.

  40. macadamia man
    July 19th, 2010 at 14:29 | #40

    @ShowsOn “the Greens are completely opposed to nuclear power, which is part of the solution to climate change”

    ¿Que? Part of “a” solution to climate change, yes, but (unless you mean the truly remote prospects for “fusion”), but in principle and practice about as irrevocably and iredeemably un-green as imaginable.
    Sadly it appears that most western and many “other” nations appear to be swallowing the same techno-babble and trying to plug a present and pressing need with a technological “solution” much promoted by the apparently omnipotent alliance between the defense industry and the nuclear power and waste “management” industries that will at best be deliverable at unknown future costs in decades time. Ever quantified the lead time for building a nuclear power generating facility? Now do the same work on any of the leading non-nuclear, non-carbon generating technologies (even at present levels). Hmmmm . . . and we haven’t even started to discuss half-lives yet . . .
    Congratulations on being first poster, though. Is there anything more “concrete” than vanity behind your alacrity? My declaration of conflicting interests: None, just the future health of my eight-year-old . . .

  41. macadamia man
    July 19th, 2010 at 14:54 | #41

    @Jim Rose

    Your comments seem to confirm your own theory about people self-selecting (and then regurgitating) media that reflect their own opinions. Failing to analyse the career-paths of non-Labour and non-Green politicians simply cripples your perspective. In my, and John Quiggin’s, federal seat of Ryan’s case for example, we have the prospect of electing (do I mean “promoting”?) a machine-ready long-term current local Liberal councillor, a scattergun oddity ex-Lib square wheel, an invisible Labour party alleged-apparatchik or a, wait for it, retired GP standing for the Greens. Now, she’ll never have met any real people, will she? Meanwhile our state MP is a long-term Liberal backroomer and marketing specialist and our suburb squarely in the Liberal Council’s density sights. Meanwhile, you reckon Rudd never met a real person in his life as a local MP, public servant and regular churchman? Pah!

  42. Jim Rose
    July 19th, 2010 at 17:25 | #42

    @macadamia man
    You make some good points but also confirm the elitist background of the Greens.

    Greens votes in 2007 were defined by what they studied: arts, culture, architecture and education. Green voters tended to be consultants, or work in government, media, health or education. Look at the backgrounds of the Green senators.

    Greens tend to be well-paid inner-urban types who use of public transport more. They tend not to have children until their 30s, if at all, which makes them even richer and gives them more spare time for political activities.

    In all phases of life, Greens are distinct from the typical Labor, Liberal or Nationals voter demographic. The Greens are not of, nor are they the new voice of the working class.

    Turnbull went after the green vote because he thought they could help him become PM. The Greens who voted for Howard after preferences tended to be of the lower income, more mainstream variety. That was because they had more children.

    The Greens take more votes from Labor than they gave back in preferences.

    The Greens are a way of turning conservative Labour voters with green dispositions but also more traditional family structures into second preferences for the Liberals. They vote Green to ally their consciences and then vote their other interests on preferences. Without a green option, they would have to stay with Labour to honour their green scruples. The greens reduce the net votes for the Left.

  43. gregh
    July 19th, 2010 at 17:38 | #43

    @Jim Rose
    “confirm the elitist background of the Greens”
    unsupported verging on the bigotted Jim Rose – a strange view of the world that sees soemone who studied arts etc at university ‘elitist’

  44. Doug
    July 19th, 2010 at 17:58 | #44

    Note that the minority ALP government with Green support is continuing to deliver stable government in the ACT with occasional hissy fits from Cabinet members when the Greens use leverage with the Liberals to raise specific local issues where the government is perceived to be dragging its heels.

    Some better accountability than was the case when we had a majority ALP government.

  45. PK
    July 19th, 2010 at 18:18 | #45

    The Greens will get my vote too. At heart, I am a democratic socialist (of some kind). I believe in supporting everyone in society; not just “user pays”. I lived in the UK under Thatcher and came back to live under Howard – truly one of the most depressing periods of my adult life. The Greens make more sense than Labor. I would as soon vote for Abbott as walk naked down Pitt Street. That man is a fake and a flake. In the end, the environment is more important than 90% of the political agenda and it’s time to get some normal people back in the decision making, imo.

  46. macadamia man
    July 19th, 2010 at 18:24 | #46

    @ Jim Rose

    Still no “analysis” of the previous employment backgrounds of non-Labour or non-Green parties then? Hmmm . . . As I recall the gist of a recent academic study of the last two MP intakes at Federal level (sorry, I haven’t got the citation to hand, but it may have been via Crikey at some point last year – anyone?) there was bugger-all difference between ALP and Libs – a few more pol sci grads with careers in student or “Young Liberal” structures and “lobbyists”, bankers, consultants and “marketing” folks for the Libs, a few more union careerists for the ALP mob, and many, many lawyers of various sorts for both. Can’t recall the last time a plumber, industrialist or retailer got the nod and actually made the House, although lots of sons of the land still seem to think their heredity qualifies them to lead the nation. Oh, and lots of union reps, which makes a fair bit of sense however you look at it, drawn from both sides of the “divide” the professional and the manual trades. As for the Greens “not representing the new voice of the working class”, I must have missed that claim somehow.
    Bring back Rotten Boroughs and the Rum Corps, I say. Then we can stop making fools of ourselves trying to be universally-representative, perhaps 😉

  47. jim c
    July 19th, 2010 at 19:21 | #47

    you cant double number up on the senate ticket and be formal

  48. Jim Rose
    July 19th, 2010 at 21:01 | #48

    @macadamia man
    Thanks for the material.

    If the study you mentioned is Whitlam’s Grandchildren, it says as follows:

    “Only 4 of the 31 new (ALP) MPs had not had a professional political class experience along the way. Overall, 12 had been union officials, 9 had been political staffers, 8 had been local government councillors, 4 had previous parliamentary experience and 2 had been full?time party officials.”

    If it is Occupational Profile of ALP, LP and National MHRs 1949-2007: From Divergence to Convergence, it says

    “We find a narrowing in the range of occupations represented among House members for the three largest parties. The trend can be observed most strongly in the Labor Party. Adding MHRs with union official as their preparliamentary background to those with political staffing backgrounds give credence to the concerns of Cavalier and others that Labor in particular has a problem in the diversity of their candidates for office. The Liberal Party, too, has greatly increased the number of political staffers entering parliament through its ranks, though not to the same extent as the ALP.”

    Bob Brown was previously a doctor, Christine Milne was a teacher, Rachel Siewert worked for the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Scott Ludlam ran a small graphic design business at one time, and Sarah Hanson-Young mostly worked for NGOs and student unions but also worked as a bank teller. All have degrees.

    Greens are the richest group of voters in Australian politics. Green parties tend to be run by lower income people representing these rich people.

    If green voters see green parties threatening their incomes, they will dump them.

    Not surprisingly, electoral support for green policies fades in economic recessions. That is why Gillard and others pushed Rudd to dump emissions trading. Neither Rudd nor now Gillard want to risk going to an election pushing a new tax in a recession. This risks more of the green vote second preferencing the Liberals as 20% already do.

  49. July 19th, 2010 at 22:13 | #49

    On the contrary Jim, the presence of The Greens allows people disaffected with the ALP from the left to keep voting and campaigning for the ALP with a clearer conscience. The ALP can pitch rightwing policies and still effectively keep leftwing preferences. Without the Greens, they could be wedged. With them, they can curse the “radical” Greens as irresponsible and pitch wholeheartedly at conservatives and even xenophobic bigots.

    In any event it is idle to speculate on there being no Greens. There is a clear constituency for such policies. So the ALP just has to make the best of it. As it happens, this is in their interest in practice, especially given the compulsory preferential system we have. The main losers ar the Coalition who are forced to abandon the mainstream and are forced into a political niche that is harder to extend than that of the ALP.

  50. Nick
    July 19th, 2010 at 23:42 | #50

    Nuclear Power is hardly a solution to climate change, it merely creates a whole separate long term problem.

  51. July 20th, 2010 at 01:11 | #51

    Pr Q said:

    It’s obvious at this point that the CPRS proposed last year is dead, and that a new ETS will have to be developed, hopefully when we have seen some more progress in other countries. For that reason, I think a carbon tax, with few exemptions and a tight cap on compensation to emitters is the best way to go.

    Way back in 2008 the author of this blog was deriding critics of carbon trading as “question beggers” and suggesting that supporters of carbon tax (yours truly) were “spoilers”. Now he has performed a neat twist on this issue and entered the carbon tax side of the pool with barely a splash.

    I am impressed by this adroit bit of intellectual gymnastics and award it a 9 out of 10, deducting one point for churlishness in not acknowledging side-line coaching.

    Bogus claim about Strocchi hobby-horse deleted

  52. jquiggin
    July 20th, 2010 at 05:32 | #52

    @Jack Strocchi
    The argument for carbon taxes you cited was a question-begging fallacy, and its logical status hasn’t been changed just because the political failure of the ETS now forces us to this way of pricing carbon as a short-term step on the path to a global emissions trading scheme. The idea, in which you seem to persist, that there is some fundamental difference between the two, is the characteristic mistake of non-economists on this topic.

  53. jquiggin
    July 20th, 2010 at 06:41 | #53

    No more nuclear power discussions please. We’ve done this topic to death, and beyond.

  54. rabee
    July 20th, 2010 at 08:04 | #54

    I’m voting

    “shame labour” for first preference and ink-smudge for second

    as I did when Kim Beazley was leader.

    We’re back to “dirty dog” labour politics. Thugs.

  55. derrida derider
    July 20th, 2010 at 09:53 | #55

    Jack Strocchi, John’s reply nailed it. An ETS has economic advantages (the biggest are the gains from international trade in permits), but really an ETS and a carbon tax are so similar in effect that the choice between them ought to be made on pragmatic political grounds.

    The important thing now is to get that price on carbon. So if the Greens prefer a carbon tax, and Green support is needed to move forward, then that’s what I’d do.

  56. July 20th, 2010 at 11:35 | #56

    John, a Greens win in Ryan is a really long shot. There’s a potential Greens vote of around 20% (WWF poll put it at 18%) and anywhere close to that would be a nasty shock to the major parties. Labor have a good candidate here, and if he was elected on the back of strong Greens 1st preferences, he would be in a good position in the party room to argue for a switch back to mainstream values. Even if the LNP candidate won on the back of Greens prefs, it would a serious wake up call to the Libs. But it won’t happen without a lot of work. I’ve put a link to the campaign site as my web site link here. If you like the look of the candidate Sandra Bayley, get in touch and help on the campaign.

    Mainstream values, you ask?

    Have you heard Gough Whitlam and Malcom Fraser talking lately? The two of them have almost indistinguishable views, seen from the perspective of today’s politics. That’s how far things have moved out of kilter.

  57. Tony G
    July 20th, 2010 at 12:44 | #57

    Lets get this straight – the Gillard and Brown clowns want to double or triple our electricity bills (and other costs indirectly) with a carbon TAX, to reduce our 1.5% of global CO2 by 5% or 0.075%. It is a con job by lunatics.

  58. Jim Rose
    July 20th, 2010 at 13:40 | #58

    @derrida derider
    There are major differences between a carbon tax and emissions trading.

    First, the history of cap-and-trade systems suggests that the carbon emission allowances are given away to carbon emitters, which are free to use them or sell them at market prices. The prices of energy products would rise as they would under a carbon tax, but governments would collect no revenue to reduce other taxes and compensate consumers.

    Second, agreement on a global cap-and-trade system is hard to imagine.

    A global carbon tax is easier to negotiate. All nations could agree to use a carbon tax as one of their instruments to raise revenue and use the proceeds to compensate consumers with tax relief or whatever else pleases them. No money needs to change hands across national borders.

    Third, a carbon tax is being championed by groups and political parties that previously would deny to their graves that taxes have significant incentive effects – taxes do not affect the supply of labour or the rate and direction of investment to any important degree.

    It is suspicious that groups and parties that deny tax cuts increase economic growth, productivity and so on take time out from these foundational beliefs to support a tax because of the incentives it gives to reduce carbon consumption. They want it both ways.

  59. Fran Barlow
    July 20th, 2010 at 14:24 | #59

    Personally, I’d prefer a robust ubiquitous ETS to operate in any substantial, relatively diverse economy where the certificates could be properly audited. I’d especially prefer it if the ETS could operate across two or more complementary jurisdictions. It’s far better at restraining busioness from backsliding than a carbon tax would be, because the certificates are tradeable assets. Business gets wedged.

    That said, a carbon tax is still better by far than no price at all on carbon dioxide emissions or an ETS that was full of loopholes and anomalies or badly audited. Of course, that could also happen to a carbon tax.

  60. Fran Barlow
    July 20th, 2010 at 14:28 | #60

    And personally, before any kind of price on carbon were implemented I”d like the subsidies to be removed first. No diesel fuel rebates. No tax deductibility for resort to dirty energy. Let’s have all government policy pulling in the same direction.

  61. Right Wing Warrior
    July 20th, 2010 at 17:06 | #61

    You are a disgrace. You are unfit to be a lecturer at an Australian University

    This country is on its knees as a result of the reckless spending of Labor and to service the huge debt they are now starting to implement large taxes on everything and anything including the most productive sector of our economy.

    To replace this incompetent hoard of communists you are voting for the unfit to govern socialists or the Greens as they are otherwise known. You arer crazy. You must be one of those radical pro drug, pro euthanasia, pro totalitarian state types who think with only about 2% of their brain.

    Tony Abbott may not be perfect but he is better than a Julia Gillard led government. This is the same Julia Gillard who was elected as the AUS Presidents in the mid-1980s using socialist alliance preferences. Everyone accused John Howard of being an extremist yet his policies helped shaped this nation into what it is today.

    Get off your high horse Quiggin. For once in your life put appropriate thought processes and logic into your debate rather than your one eyes partisanship

  62. Greens are Feral
    July 20th, 2010 at 17:42 | #62

    Dear Mr Quiggin – have you been smoking some of that stuff that gives you the munchies, that your party of preference would so dearly love to legalise?

    It’s nice to know that the main substantive issues that concern you are economic management and climate change. Have you considered that if we don’t have a strong economy – then we can’t do much for the climate? Or for that matter, schools, hospitals, families, roads, vegeterians, whales, etc?

    The only reason Australia managed to avoid the GFC is not through any Labor ingenuity, and certainly with no help from the Greens, who’s extremist policies would have seen Australia’s GDP fall on par with Zimbabwe, but rather the enormous surplus which was gifted to it by the previous Coalition govt. A surplus which has been totally and utterly squandered and will take many more years to repay the debt.

    You call Abbott an unprincipled opportunist? What about Comrade Julia and her ruthless execution of Rudd? Or what about Bob Brown who has done a preference deal with the ALP. You remember the ALP right? They’re the ones who said climate was our biggest moral challenge, blah, blah, blah, but then renigged? Get real Mr Quiggin. Gillard, Brown and co are as much hypocrites as anyone else, and from reading you blog – so are you!

    Bob Brown’s policies – whether on the environment, economy, foreign policy, defence, refugees, health, education – are so far left it would make Mao Ze Dong and Lenin look like neo-conservatives. And you have the hide to call Abbott extremist?

    Anyone that votes for the Greens is voting for – higher taxes, an isolationist Australia, a doomed economy and a socialist policy.

    Why don’t you just draw a big smily face on your vote card and thrown your vote away.

  63. Damon
    July 20th, 2010 at 17:58 | #63

    @Jim Rose Just have to point out. Even if the bills rise, which they will have to, to control wastage (such as phantom energy), the option is to do nothing now and go without later.

    What do you choose?

    So what would have happened if we’d acted sooner like say 20 years when the Greens were first talking about Climate Change and water conservation? hmmm? were you under a rock or were you just ignorant?

  64. July 20th, 2010 at 18:09 | #64

    The Case against the Greens.

    The Greens do not believe in Australian Sovereignty. If you do not believe in Australian Sovereignty, then VOTE 1 – Greens.

    The Greens, in their policies say this:


    The Australian Greens believe that:


    1. global governance is essential to meet the needs of global peace and security, justice, human rights, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.
    2. effective means of global environmental governance are needed to halt and reverse the current trends towards environmental decline across the globe, especially with regard to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change.
    3. the system of global governance must be reinvigorated.

    No-one should stand for any of Australia’s Parliaments, swear an oath of allegiance and then white-ant Australia’s sovereignty.

  65. Damon
    July 20th, 2010 at 18:20 | #65

    @Greens are Feral Wow, did you read your reply before you posted it? There seems to be one feral about it and it aint the Greens. Take a hint, Australia is not as far right wing as you may think.

    The Greens present a policies that for the future. Most fo the “issues” we discuss today were put forward by the Greens abotu a decade ago… so maybe we need to start thinking ahead instead of the Labor/Liberal policies that only account for the next two years or so.

    Want good governance, vote for future proofing.

  66. paul walter
    July 20th, 2010 at 18:47 | #66

    A sustained march into a total exposure of ignorance that breeds such rubbish as above, from the seried ranks of the QLD DLP.
    Some of you ought to quit smoking the stuff you reckon the Prof is ingesting.

  67. Brian, Queensland
    July 20th, 2010 at 19:23 | #67

    For a university professor I can understand how easy it must be for you to be muddled in the mind about common sense. Oh how I pity your brain-washwed students. However, I can also understand why you’d vote Green (and give preferences to Labor) being so misty-eyed about reality.
    Why is it that down to earth sensible people tend to come from the Conservative parties of politics and the goons from ther left field? One only has to see them in action on the streets protesting to wonder about their education. Oh, I know, sometimes the great unwashed have also been brainwashed at university.

  68. frankis
    July 20th, 2010 at 20:31 | #68

    Vote No! to the two major organised crime gangs of Aus politics (Labor and the Coalition).

    It’s great to have the Prof back on the block.

  69. Jim Rose
    July 20th, 2010 at 22:14 | #69

    I found the best writer on global warming to be Thomas Schelling. He has been involved with the global warming debate since chairing a commission for President Carter in 1980.

    Schelling is an economist who specialises in strategy so he focuses on climate change as a bargaining problem. He drew in his experiences with the negotiation of the Marshall Plan and NATO.

    International agreements rarely work if they talk in terms of results. They work better if signatories promise to supply specific inputs – to perform specific actions now.

    Individual NATO members did not, for example, promise to slow the Soviet invasion by 90 minutes.

    NATO members promised to raise and train troops, procure equipment and supplies, and deploy these assets including in other member countries. All of these actions can be observed, estimated and compared quickly. The NATO treaty was a few pages long.

    The Kyoto Protocol commitments were made not about actions but to results that were to be measured after more than a decade. No one can tell until close to 2012 which nations are on course to meet their goals. There was little guidance on what had to be done to archive these goals.

    Climate treaties could promise to do certain actions now such as invest in R&D and develop carbon taxes that return the revenue as tax cuts. If the carbon tax revenue is fully refunded as tax cuts, less reliable countries, in particular, have a additional self-enforcing incentive to collect the carbon tax properly to keep their budget deficits under control.

  70. Sam Clifford
    July 21st, 2010 at 09:00 | #70

    @Geoff Brwn
    You’re confusing global governance with global government. How is it a betrayal of Australia’s sovereignty to argue for worldwide co-operation with solving problems? Perhaps you might like to take a swing at that dangerous left-wing ideologue, Sir Paul Hasluck, for daring to suggest that Australia should be involved with the United Nations (and indeed take a leadership role in the formation and negotiations of the UN).

    Mind you, I don’t agree with the assessment of “Greens are feral” who say that the Greens want an isolationist foreign policy, either. Surely the Greens can’t be both internationalists who want to hand over Australia’s decision making power about domestic affairs to a single world government as well as being head-in-the-sand isolationists who don’t want to engage in global affairs.

    Additionally, I feel sorry for Dr Quiggin who is being attacked ad hominem simply for daring to suggest that neither the Liberals nor the ALP deserve his primary vote.

  71. Bernard McKenna
    July 21st, 2010 at 09:20 | #71

    @Philip Machanick
    Thanks John for a thoughtful piece on why you’re voting Green. I too am in Ryan and have thrown my weight behind Dr Sandra Bayley who’s working full time on this campaign. I told Sandra that I think a Green vote of about 20% is very possible = tough, but possible.

    It saddens me to see knee jerk respones from people attacking John. Attack his ideas, but to suggest that he is’s a dope smoking fool is a ludicrous slander. As a fellow academic at UQ with John, I know that he is a Federation Fellow: i.e., a person who is identified as so significant in international standing that he could be lured away as part of the brain drain from Australia. John’s writings attacking excessive neo-liberal economic policy in the 1980s and 1990s earned him the ire of Labor and Liberals. After the GFC, people are now acknowledging that much of what John wrote was spot on.

    That doesn’t mean he’s always right, but it does mean that what he has to say is probaby worth considering and not the ramblings of a fool.

    If those who’ve slandered him want another opinion, from a world respected environmenalist, then perhaps you could consider the writings of James Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/jhansen.html) who has written extensively on climate chage for almost thirty years, before people had heard about it. He argues that even a one-degree change in global temperature could be the tipping point in environmental catastrophe.

    So let’s keep the debate about environment in the bounds of content and common sense, not ludicrous slagging of an eminent and thoroughly decent person.

  72. July 21st, 2010 at 09:28 | #72

    Look at all the rabid right-wing loons come out of the wood work. Always gives me a chuckle.

    Geoff Brown is off with the fairies.

    ‘Greens are ferals’ says Bob Brown’s policies …are so far left it would make Mao Ze Dong and Lenin look like neo-conservatives. That’s pathetic. I don’t see the Greens advocating revolution, violence or anything of the sort.

    And this from an idiot who has no concept of how economies even work. Having a huge surplus in times of contracting demand only leads to mass unemploment and economic chaos. So sick of the loons who just don’t get the econonic basics.

  73. July 21st, 2010 at 09:31 | #73

    That’s unemployment and economic. Damn typos.

  74. Greens are Feral
    July 21st, 2010 at 10:43 | #74

    Dear Aussie Unionist,

    I’m sure if you had your way, union thugs would be back to running the wharfs and workplaces, productivity would come to a standstill, creativity and innovation would die, unemployment would rise and the economy would shrink.

    The economy – and workers – never had it so good as they did under the previous Coalition Government – unemployment at record lows, interest at record lows, inflation in check, productivity and innovation strong, disposable incomes on the rise, GDP growing, debt paid off, budget in surplus, etc. All that has gone back under Labor, and would go back even further into the dark ages if the Unionists (or Greens for that matter) had their way.

    I think you’re the idiot who has no concept of how economies work!!

  75. gregh
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:06 | #75

    @Greens are Feral

    Under the coalition income inequalities increased, along with all the other problems income inequalities bring (eg worse health). That’s not up for challenge, that’s just the official stats. So, given that, how is it that workers never had it so good during a period of declining health (amongst other things)?

  76. jquiggin
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:32 | #76

    @Geoff Brwn
    @Greens are Feral
    @Brian, Queensland

    I must say I suspect a Poe, or three here. It’s difficult to believe that such stereotypical caricatures are actually for real. But having dealt with rightwing trolls in the past, I regret to say that they probably are.

    As I’ve said in the past, it must be incredibly embarrassing to be a philosophical conservative these days, given the mindless anti-intellectualism and anti-science tribalism that is “actually existing conservatism”.

  77. Fran Barlow
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:39 | #77

    Aussie Unionist, gregh, Sam Clifford …

    What do you make of the near simultaneous appearance of four new IDs/nyms all making the same hysterical DLP-style claims about The Greensand or abusing the bloghost? One of them was in such a hurry that it couldn’t even type “Brown” correctly. I’m going to go out on a limb and conclude that Quiggin’s position (which has been cited at Catalepsy and probably from there circulated to the rest of the rightwing blogosphere has picked up a DLP-style troll. These could of course be simply an iteration of one of our more modestly spoken reactionaries.

    It is probably not worth responding to trolls of this sort. No kind of serious discussion can be had with people who, at least superficially, describe observable reality in terms peculiar to them alone(cf: Bob Brown’s policies – whether on the environment, economy, foreign policy, defence, refugees, health, education – are so far left it would make Mao Ze Dong and Lenin look like neo-conservatives;). What they seek is to provoke flames (Oh how I pity your brain-washwed students. […] Why is it that down to earth sensible people tend to come from the Conservative parties of politics and the goons from ther left field?) and nuke the topic into a commentary about things that can bear little relation to the case for The Greens that most people recognise as salient.

    Don’t feed the trolls is the rule here.

  78. gregh
    July 21st, 2010 at 11:45 | #78

    no doubt correct john

    @Fran Barlow
    correct too Fran – I was momentarily overcome

  79. jquiggin
    July 21st, 2010 at 12:04 | #79

    Different (and new) IPs, maybe as a result of the Crikey republication or Catallaxy, and in one case from here

    though the total absence of comments suggests its not exactly a hub of activity.

    That said, don’t feed the trolls. If someone wants to make serious point in opposition to my post, they will be most welcome, but comments like those made above deserve only derision.

  80. July 21st, 2010 at 12:18 | #80

    @Fran Barlow
    here’s another right wing troll not worthy of a feed – Paul Howes, the National Secretary of The Australian Workers’ Union, who wrote in last Sunday’s Telegraph: “If Rhiannon is successful in her bid for election to the Senate -with a little of campaign assistance from the taxpayers of NSW – her watermelon” group will become the dominate force in the Greens nationally.

    That will mean for many voters, when they think they are casting a vote for the environment, they will, in fact, be voting for many issues that they may not support and be completely unaware of.

    The Green’s have been using the slogan “The future is Green” but if Rhiannon is successful, truth in advertising laws may require them to amend it to “The future is red”. end quote

    Another case against the Greens!

  81. paul walter
    July 21st, 2010 at 14:49 | #81

    The only joke biggger than Paul Howes himself, is the notion that he’s a lefty, mixed up those mischeivous Greens; no doubt an old valve wireless hidden under the bed so he can get orders from Moscow.

  82. Dave McRae
    July 21st, 2010 at 15:33 | #82

    Not going to argue with the post as it’s spot on I reckon.

    And, Fran, totally agree. The initial ‘price on carbon’ would be the removal of distortions provided by the huge subsidies – kill the Diesel Rebate for starters.

    I’m hopeful that the Greens will be holding the balance of power in the senate, and hope there may be sensible policies arising, including the death of many subsidies to carbon.

    (on a bit of a tangent – there’s a piece on ABC’s The Drum by a Greg Barns you may wish to avoid if you haven’t already – horrid bit of logic, but funny I guess – his fear peddling thesis is that the Greens will gang up on a Labor, block supply to install a Green pliant Liberal party – only slightly better prose than our new 3 trolls)

  83. chris
    July 21st, 2010 at 17:17 | #83

    It is not racist to want australians in australia!

    If I was in the mood to be charitable, I’d assume that Chris meant that we should encourage recent arrivals (not to mention Brits who came here decades ago and have never bothered) to take up Australian citizenship as soon as possible. But given the content of the post on which he is commenting, I’m not feeling charitable – Chris is a pretty clear illustration of why we need to lift the ban on the word “racist” and apply it to all those making overt or coded appeals to racism. Nothing further from you please, Chris – JQ

  84. Gary
    July 21st, 2010 at 17:18 | #84

    Prof. Quiggin, you obviously are not aware of the full list of policies and ideals of the Greens, otherwise a seemingly educated man like you would not go near them. If they were to govern or have a powerful say in running this country, we would be taken back to the dark ages. Closing down the mines (uranium), stop coal exports, and closing down coal fired power stations are just a few.

  85. July 21st, 2010 at 17:47 | #85

    Shifting from the aspects of GREEN policies to the prospects for GREEN politics, my general psephological philosophy is that a Right-wing polarisation brings forth a Left-wing polarisaiton. But that the polarising moment would not last. So I predict a plateauing of the GREEN primary vote.

    On 10 APR 2010 in the pre-Gillard era – it seems almost a lifetime ago! – I predicted that the LN/P’s hard Right-wing would be rejected in the forthcoming election, although they would help their case by “dropping Work Choices Mlk MVIII”. Abbott has already seen the writing on that wall and has pre-emptively ditched of Work Choices.

    On 12 JUN 10 I predicted that the ALP would win the election comfortably, irrespective of leaders. And that the GREENs vote would slump as the hollowness of the L/NP’s Right-wing support base was exposed and anxiety about giving Bob Brown too much direct power started to mount:

    I don’t think this ideological divergence will last, at least in AUS. The Centre-Left is on solid ground with its core policies. And its political base (aging Baby Boomers, NESBs and single mothers) are a growing demographic.

    I suspect that the GREEN vote will slump back down to 10% once the L/NP’s Hard Right is defeated. Most people do not want Bob Brown calling too many shots in Canberra.

    So far that tendency appears to be working. The latest Newspoll shows the GREEN vote at 12%, down from its pre-Gillard high of 16%.

    I see no reason to predict the GREENs breaking out of their ~10% ceiling. They have gotten little or no public traction with their asylum-seeker campaign, further extensions of cultural liberalism is on the nose with about 2/3 of the populus. They will certainly get more formal power when the half-SENATE election gives them effective coalition governing rights. But thats likely to drive more primary votes back to the ALP or even L/NP, as moderate voters get spooked.

    This indicates that the converging tendencies in the AUS electorate, that I have been banging on about for most of the decade, are over-overpowering strong. The AUS electorate is like one of those inflatable sand-bag clowns that just keeps rocking back on its centre of gravity, no matter which way they get hit.

  86. Alice
    July 22nd, 2010 at 22:25 | #86

    Oh my goodness – we have two tribals in here (11 and 12). It doesnt take them long does it ? Loons out of the woodwork – still fighting the cold war with expressions like “comrades”. How old are they? Their bones must be creaking after 50 years of footstorming for the now sadly disgraced displaced right.

  87. Alice
    July 22nd, 2010 at 22:28 | #87

    @Jack Strocchi
    Jack – for an aspiring political commentator you are pretty biased. Id bet you $20 here and now you are wrong about the green vote not going over 10%. Its political rightism thats on the nose with voters.

  88. 2 tanners
    July 23rd, 2010 at 09:32 | #88

    I’m pleased to be able to vote Green in the Senate with a minor chance of it actually coming across. Pleased because the Greens are running a good solid person (NB to the trolls – the candidate is also a devout church-goer) whereas I wouldn’t have voted for the last person they ran under any circumstances. Labor is a cert for the other seat, but the Senator is OK.

    Why am I pleased? Because I want Labor to have to negotiate its outcomes and to an extent this will enable it to occupy the middle ground quite effectively, while enabling the Senate to be more a house of review and less a house of opposition. It won’t, as some commentators put it, be the Greens holding the balance of power. Labor will be able to negotiate with either party to get things through.

    My very safe Labor HoR seat has a new candidate who defeated the machine nominee (hooray!) and who also looks promising. I’m quite happy, all things considered.

  89. Socrates
    July 23rd, 2010 at 12:10 | #89

    Fran Barlow 27

    It will be good when some commentators are honest enough to use the name “sock puppet”.

    Regarding the content of JQ’s post, I think the case for the Greens just got stronger. Gillard’s climate announcement was: new standards on NEW coal fired power stations and a “citizens forum” to build concensus on a carbon price. Plus some dollars for a national power grid (not enough: $1 billion).

  90. Jill Rush
    July 24th, 2010 at 23:04 | #90

    There is no doubt that a Green vote means that Greens have a right at the table of decisions. Each vote is worth money and I don’t see why you would reward poor performance with any more money. The Greens can do with more because they are not taking the corporate dollar.

    I agree that preferences should flow to Labor because Tony Abbott is not the right material for a Prime Minister whereas Julia Gillard is showing a lot of aptitude. More importantly and it is reflected by the “warrior” above, is that the Liberals campaign is so negative and combative. The language being used includes armada, Battlelines (reflected in Abbott’s biography) and many other angry words. The promise that Workchoices is dead is not convincing as it is unrealistic. We need to take Tony Abbott at his word that he cannot be believed as perhaps he has his fingers crossed. It is no wonder that he rates badly with women and young people as his macho stance alienates many.

    A vote for the Greens will be needed to keep Labor in touch with reality – after all look what great popularity did to Kevin Rudd.

  91. July 24th, 2010 at 23:10 | #91

    My partner and I are committing to donating $2.30 to The Greens per informal vote in our booth where a primary is for the Greens.

    This is the best way (apart from helping them out) we can support our candidate. He isn’t going to get within cooee of winning or even pushing the Lib into third place.

  92. Donald Oats
    July 25th, 2010 at 01:30 | #92

    Every stupid troll I see on this site only reaffirms my desire to vote Green 1st, and Labor before Liberal. Labor have done some things well, quite a few things in fact, but have been let down by poor communication. They have also allowed some ridiculous claims to be broadcast by the media without adequate and rapid challenge by senior Labor ministers.

    As a particular case where Labor copped a shellacking was the home insulation scheme house fires and contractor/installer deaths. They could have taken the high ground but didn’t, because to do so would have upset the small business constituency. Some of the most serious cases came down to small business greed and this went unchallenged by Labor. For example, one guy hired new and inexperienced staff to install the bats. The staff had no idea of the electrical dangers they were exposing themselves too, or that they could cause roof fires by inappropriate insulation placement. The business owner was directly responsible with regards to ensuring adequate training of all staff. One such owner admitted on national TV – ABC Four Corners – that he didn’t want to spend the money on training, which is appalling.

    Eviscerating the Ruddmeister may have felt good for the machine men, but it was a stupid waste of a PM who could have recovered lost ground if communication with the public was improved.

    Personally, I cannot remember any other case of an Australian PM being treated so hostilely by the MSM, including the ABC, from the get go to whoa! The Australian paper’s chief editor Chris Mitchell seemed to make it his mission to bury Kev whatever the cost. Perhaps Chris didn’t like the way Kev gentlely joked about something George Bush said over the phone. Or perhaps Murdoch cracked the whip and Chris jumped into action.

    Greens for me. Mum always said not to forget my greens.

    PS: Great to see you are back, Pr Q. Cheers!

  93. Chris Warren
    July 25th, 2010 at 06:44 | #93

    Having been a member of the Greens in Canberra, some twenty-something years ago, I know they are all very progressive and politically correct, but in essence care very little for working class issues which, in their schemes, must give way for Green pet policies as delivered by the media and received from various paperbacks you can buy at Uni Co-op bookshops.

    However, some Greens are not of this ilk, support workers, and for their troubles are tagged “water-melons”.

    So I would not give the Greens a blank cheque. They are a mixed bag. But if you know a Green candidate personally, or have good reason to believe the local candidate really has the interests of workers at all levels in mind, then a vote for a Green accompanied by a second preferance for the ALP seems reasonable.

    But always put the ALP ahead of the Tory Liberals.

  94. Alice
    July 25th, 2010 at 09:14 | #94

    I doubt whether labor or the greens will fly in my electorate either….given there must by now be thousands of blue ribbon sepp55 developments. I guess that means nothing will change here except for the traffic getting worse. I will be stuck here till I die. No way in. No way out.

    Ill still give my vote to the greens but Im thinking its worth exhausting it somewhere along the line as well. Best I can do to keep the abottsvile horror away and I am so disappointed with mining tax back down and other neoliberal directions in Labor (Workchoices watered down not abolished) my vote wont go directly to Gillard either.

    Pleased to see the greens open their first office down my way – across the road from Bronywn Bishops. Wonder if they share the same cafe?

  95. Jim Rose
    July 25th, 2010 at 10:54 | #95

    @Chris Warren

    The leadership and activists in the Green party think their voters are left wing. They are not.

    The average green voters are rather well-off with all the economic caution that breeds and they are rusted on to the privileged treatment of superannuation and home ownership.

    Their enthusiasm for public transport is interest group based – many green voters live in the inner-city and use it to commute to their desk jobs.

    As long as they have their dope and organic vegetables, many green voters would be all for work for the dole as long as they were green jobs or community work. Call it a conservation corp.

  96. Alice
    July 25th, 2010 at 11:01 | #96

    @Jim Rose
    Public mass transport is not just a choice of greens JR. Its increasingly a policy preference of many voters tired of the gridlock and two kilometre tolled roads…
    Investment in mass public transport should have been on the political radar decades ago…its called city planning.
    What did happen to the department of public works in NSW? I understand its now a committee and doesnt exist. Its part of the reason voters are unhappy with both majors Im sure….they dont seem to be doing much planning. A lot of announcements and fanfare but in reality….there is real ineptitude there in advance planning because there has been an ideological gall stone (the market does it better) blocking sensible public policy.

  97. Jim Rose
    July 25th, 2010 at 11:56 | #97

    I used to live in Australia’s most planned city, which was Canberra.

    Canberra is a sprawling car city with five town centres and huge green spaces to let the bushfires in.

    Also, corner shops are illegal.

    All shops are in a shopping centre for each suburb. Because they are centralised, you must have a car to drive to them and bring home your shopping.

    Canberra is so spread out that the buses are hopeless and it is too cold in winter and too hot in summer to walk to and wait at the bus stop for more than a few minutes.

    Greens support public transport because relatively fewer of them have children to ask and ask again why they are waiting at a bus stop in the cold, the heat or the rain when mum or dad has a car.

    Buses work better when cities are compact, summers and winters are moderate, and, most of all, where roads are subject to cordon pricing and congestion charges. Ken Livingston showed this well in London.

    The Swedes have a really cleaver way of introducing cordon pricing and congestion charges. Trial them for 7 months, stop charging the cordon prices and congestion charges for 5 months, and then hold a local referendum on whether people want to go back.

  98. Jim Rose
    July 25th, 2010 at 12:02 | #98

    in another triumph of central planning, front fences are illegal in canberra too.

    Planners must not have small children who like to run out on to the road.

  99. Alice
    July 25th, 2010 at 21:21 | #99

    @Jim Rose
    Jim Rose – I dont think that greens support public transport because as you suggest without any evidence that “relatively fewer of them have children to ask and ask again why they are waiting at a bus stop in the cold, the heat or the rain when mum or dad has a car.”

    This is a pretty absurd sort of comment to make. Greens support for public transport is about the only decent policy discussed after the great debate on TV tonight (except that it bore no resemblance to a a debate and was simply a sales pitch for the most part). It was discussed by Bob Brown after the great “debate” and he made the comment that a silly amount of time was wasted on discussing boat people (groan) while the major issues we face as a nation were ignored.

    In an age of increasing traffic gridlocks in Australian major cities which is reducing your highly rated labour productivity, reducing the efficiency of the transportation of goods and services, hindering businesses and adding emmissions to an already pollution warmed environment discussion on mass public transport systems is a major issue.

    One, it would appear, that only the greens are willing to discuss. The two main parties traded political putdowns and shied away from some pretty major concerns Australians face.

    Your dislike of planners is obvious but we do not live in an uncharted frontier and what transport systems we currently use were mostly the result of past public planning and construction.

    There are now too many of us to do without planning for future transport infrastructure needs. To continue to press for reliance on cars is simply irresponsible – we need more options where families and indidividuals become less car reliant.

  100. Jim Rose
    July 25th, 2010 at 21:56 | #100


    on demographic evidence, in http://www.nationaltimes.com.au/opinion/politics/blogs/the-razors-edge/the-greens–ignore-at-ones-peril/20100324-qvsu.html Lindsay Tanner notes that:

    “Essentially the rising Green vote is a product of increasing tertiary education. Green voters are typically either tertiary educated or undergoing tertiary education. Their support is heavily concentrated amongst tertiary disciplines that are focused on much more than just making money. Unlike most Australians, these voters tend to be secure and comfortable enough to be able to put aside immediate self-interest when assessing their political options.”


    “[the Greens] relentlessly feed off Labor’s need to make compromises in order to marry progressive reform with majority government. All their energies are directed to attacking the Labor Party, not the conservatives.”

    As for demographics, see http://www.elaborate.net.au/profile-of-the-2007-australian-election.html

    Spilt voting is good for the soul.

    Vote with your heart and then follow your wallet and second preference the Libs. The greens take more from Labour than they give back in preferences.

    When the green vote went from 8% to 15%, second preference of Libs by these green voters in these opinions polls increased from 20% to 32%.

    The greens facilitate protest votes while electing right-wing governments.

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